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Ashley Manta

“The CannaSexual”

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Ashley Manta, also known as “The CannaSexual,” is on a journey to share information and help others throughout the world. Ashley created the word CannaSexual and trademarked it. It refers to anyone who mindfully and deliberately combines sex and cannabis to deepen intimacy and enhance pleasure, whether solo or partnered. Ashley says, “It has become a lifestyle brand and my professional nickname, ‘The CannaSexual.’ I am a sex and relationship coach, writer, and public speaker. I work with clients (individuals and couples) via Skype, and I work with VIP clients face-to-face. I offer online courses, I speak at colleges, conferences, and retreats, and my first book will be published in the second half of 2020. My mission is to inspire people to see the innate value in themselves and empower them to ask for what they want. I am having the best sex of my life, and it’s a combination of confidence, communication, technique, and enthusiasm. I want that for everyone. Whatever is getting in the way of my clients having the best sex of their lives (however they define it). I help them find practical solutions, reframes, and workarounds. My public lectures are part education and part motivational speeches. Someone, sometime in your life, may have left you thinking that you weren’t enough or weren’t worthy. I’m here to tell you that you ARE enough, and you are SO worthy.” 

Ashley wasn’t always a cannabis consumer and didn’t consume cannabis for the first time until ten years ago, while she was in graduate school working on her Masters degree in Philosophy. “I’d grown up being taught, like most kids of the 80s and 90s, that ‘marijuana’ was bad and so were the people who used it. That belief system was challenged by the fact that most of my grad school cohort and a few of the professors were enthusiastic consumers. The first time I smoked, I used a gravity bong (rookie mistake) and got extraordinarily high but in a pleasant way. I sat on a LoveSac and watched Empire Records and contemplated the beauty of the universe. After that, I was fully pro-cannabis.” 

It has become a lifestyle brand + my professional nickname, ‘The CannaSexual”.

Now, Ashley consumes cannabis in all forms available. “I smoke, vape, dab, eat edibles, use tinctures, apply topicals, insert suppositories, and use cannabinoid infused skincare and bath products. Depending on the method of consumption, it helps in different ways. I use CBD suppositories for cramps and to make deep penetration more comfortable during sex. I smoke and dab socially, it helps with my social anxiety. I use tinctures for headaches and body pain. I eat edibles before bed to help me sleep. I love soaking in a tub with a THC and/or CBD bath bomb–Kush Queen is my favorite brand. I use Foria Awaken every time I have sex to enhance sensation.” As you can see, cannabis can be consumed in a variety of ways and Ashley has the knowledge and experience to share with others, which may help improve some aspect of their own life. 

For those new and interested in trying cannabis, Ashley offers her advice. “I encourage everyone to start out with miniscule amounts of whatever they’re trying. Use a bit, then wait. If you’re inhaling, wait 15-20 minutes, if you’re ingesting, wait a full two hours. See how you feel, then add more if you choose. I also strongly encourage folks to masturbate after consuming to determine how that product impacts arousal, desire, and sensation. If you’re not interested in feeling high, try using a THCA and/or CBD tincture, which won’t cause any intoxication. Likewise, topicals are intoxication free, so try it if you have body aches.” 

“Anytime someone is thinking of combining sex and cannabis, I encourage them to be mindful of consent. Cannabis is psychoactive, even if some forms are non-intoxicating. Have a conversation with your partner, prior to consuming, about boundaries, fears, and desires. Tell them how you’d like to be taken care of if you over consume, and share with your partner some key things that they might see or hear (lethargic movements, softer speech) if you’re in some kind of distress. Additionally, stop buying in to the indica/sativa myth. The effects of a given strain are entirely subjective and largely dependent on personal body chemistry, mindset, environment, tolerance, and amount consumed. Not all sativas make you energetic and not all indicas make you sleepy. We need to develop more nuanced ways of talking about cannabis’ effects rather than using vague conversational shorthand.” Keeping in mind that the widely used terms indica and sativa aren’t reliable terms to distinguish the effects a product may have on a person and that each person may react differently to the same product is very important to understand when combining cannabis and intimacy or consuming for any other reason. 

Stop buying into the indica/sativa myth.

People are experiencing less pain when consuming cannabis. Combining cannabis and sex has been life changing for some. Ashley says, “The exact mechanism hasn’t been fully studied. We’re so limited on scientific data, especially regarding sexuality and cannabis, but the working theory is that cannabis helps with pain by reducing painful sensations in the nerves and enhancing pleasurable sensations. THC is a vasodilator, meaning it expands blood vessels, bringing more blood flow to the area when applied topically, while CBD has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help with swelling. Vaginal suppositories are helpful because it gets the cannabinoids deeper into the vaginal canal where they can absorb into the vaginal walls, the cervix, and the internal clitoral erectile tissue. Suppositories can also be inserted anally, which helps reduce discomfort without numbing.” She says, “Sex shouldn’t hurt unless you want it to! That was a BDSM joke. Seriously though, as someone who experienced pain with penetration from my first sexual experience in my teens through my late twenties, I have deep empathy for those who experience pain during sex. There are lots of reasons this might be the case, and since I’m not a doctor, I would encourage folks to chat with their healthcare provider to rule out any serious health issues that might be masked by using cannabis for pain relief.” 

As more states legalize cannabis and it continues to move mainstream, more studies are being conducted. “Marijuana Use Episodes and Partner Intimacy Experiences: A Daily Report Study” looked at participants over a month and examined whether cannabis consumption periods were associated with couple intimacy. “Although marijuana use has been linked to negative consequences for intimate relationships, emerging literature suggests that under some circumstances it may have positive consequences. Couples who use substances together report better relationship functioning over time and may experience positive short term outcomes.” The study concludes, “It is also possible that some couples are more likely to experience positive versus negative outcomes. Because the positive effects of marijuana are particularly strong, they are probably more apparent to users than the more modes effect on partner conflict, reinforcing positive marijuana expectancies and encouraging use within the couple.”1 Science will continue studying why and how these positive effects are being seen with cannabis use in couples and are continuing to learn more through research. 

I’m here to tell you that you ARE enough, and you are SO worthy.

Next year, Ashley will continue to provide education when she releases her book. “After my book is released, I’ll be doing a book tour, which will take me to a bunch of new places that I’ve been wanting to visit. Plus, I’m going to be traveling internationally to speak at retreats and festivals, and I am really looking forward to finally getting some stamps in my passport! I’m especially looking forward to hosting my first Bodysex retreat after being certified by the founder, iconic feminist Betty Dodson, last summer. This retreat is designed to help women love their bodies and feel empowered to give themselves pleasure! It’s very cannabis friendly–Betty is a big fan of the plant!”

There are so many ways to support Ashley and learn more from her events! Enroll in one of her online courses at ElevatedIntimacy.com, subscribe to her podcast Elevated Intimacy, or hire her to teach at your retreat, festival, or conference! Visit her website, CannaSexual.com, to learn about all of the ways you can interact! She’s taking on a few more elite coaching clients in 2020, so email her to enquire about the enrollment process. You can also follow her on Instagram @CannaSexual or on Twitter @TheCannaSexual. 


REFERENCES

1. https://publications.sciences.ucf.edu/cannabis/index.php/
Cannabis/article/view/35/16

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Turmeric

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Turmeric is a root vegetable commonly used as a spice in various Indian and other cultures’ dishes. Turmeric is in the zingiberaceae family, as is ginger. The turmeric plant is native to the southeastern region of Asia and commonly harvested in places like India, Sri Lanka, China, Indonesia, and Taiwan. It is responsible for curry’s signature orange color, and its vibrant pigment will give essentially any meal an orange hue. 

Turmeric contains a substance called curcumin, and curcumin has been shown through research to offer anti-inflammatory and other therapeutic benefits. The scientific name for the turmeric plant is Curcuma Longa, and likely where the name curcumin comes from. When people are talking about the health benefits of turmeric, they are referencing curcumin so you may hear the two names used interchangeably. Curcumin is part of a group called curcuminoids, with curcumin being the most active and the most beneficial for health. Flavonoids are another substance found in various plants and give these plants their color. Curcumin is a flavonoid and is responsible for providing that bright orange color to turmeric. In addition to providing aesthetic value, flavonoids are also strong antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties.

The Journal of Biological Chemistry published a study done by Sanjaya Singh and Bharat B. Aggarwal of the Cytokine Research Laboratory at the world-renowned cancer hospital, M.D. Anderson. The study found that curcumin suppressed NF-κB, a protein complex responsible for controlling inflammatory responses. In other words, turmeric shuts off the body’s inflammatory response. Anti-inflammatories can be beneficial for many different ailments, including chronic pain and digestive disorders. A lot of CBD companies even put curcumin in their products because of its benefits. It is believed to be a synergistic pair with complementary therapeutic properties. The thought is that the two plant medicines are powerful on their own; as a combination, they can deliver even more anti-inflammatory and medicinal benefits. 

Many people simply add turmeric to their dishes as a way to easily incorporate it into their daily routine. It is pretty mild in flavor and can be added to many dishes without changing the overall taste too drastically. Some say that turmeric isn’t strong enough on its own to receive the anti-inflammatory properties that curcumin provides, and therefore recommend a curcumin supplement. Research varies on that, so in the end it is just up to personal preference and your doctor’s approval. Curcumin supplements come most available in capsules. Pregnant women can safely use turmeric as an addition to their food, but should avoid taking high-dosage supplements. Those who are interested in supplementing with curcumin products should talk with their doctor first. 

M.D. Anderson Cancer Center did another study in 2007 exploring curcumin for cancer treatment. The study found that curcumin inhibits ovarian cancer growth and angiogenesis (the development of new blood vessels). It does this by targeting and manipulating the NF-κB pathway, the same protein complex responsible for controlling inflammatory response. According to a report published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “The nuclear factor NF-κB pathway has long been considered a prototypical proinflammatory signaling pathway, largely based on the role of NF-κB in the expression of proinflammatory genes including cytokines, chemokines, and adhesion molecules.”  

The trend with curcumin seems to be it’s ability to control inflammatory responses in the body. It does this by multiple pathways, but a commonly researched one is the NF-κB protein complex. Because this pathway is able to be manipulated by curcumin to encourage anti-inflammatory expressions, its potential for successfully treating various ailments is there.

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Psilocybin + Magic Mushrooms

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When many think of plant medicine, specifically those plants with psychoactive effects, they think of “magic mushrooms,” or fungi containing psilocybin and psilocin that can cause hallucinations depending on the dosage consumed. In many states, there are active efforts to decriminalize these otherwise scheduled substances, lowering penalties for their use and possession. But what value do psilocybin-containing mushrooms offer? New research suggests a range of therapeutic and psychological value ranging from the treatment of substance abuse to anxiety and depression management.  

What are Magic Mushrooms?

Magic Mushroom use dates back to 10,000 BCE and references continue throughout the era. Their modern popularity began when the term “magic mushroom” was coined by two etnomycologists who learned of a Harvard study on local doctors in Mexico using these substances, noting the substance’s ability to affect the nervous system. These findings were eventually published in Life magazine in 1957, and the term became the universal reference for psychoactive fungi and truffles, specifically those containing high concentrations of psilocybin and psilocin.

Psilocybin & Psilocin: The “Magic” in Magic Mushrooms

Psilocybin and psilocin are part of a family of psychedelic compounds found in magic mushrooms. Psilocin is pharmacologically active, and psilocybin is converted into psilocin when consumed or activated. Similar in structure to serotonin, there are more than 50 species of mushrooms and a variety of truffles that produce both the precursor, psilocybin, and the psychoactive compound, psilocin. Unlike LSD, magic mushrooms do not affect dopamine receptors, solely targeting serotonin sites

How are Magic Mushrooms used?

Magic mushrooms are often used for recreational, therapeutic and medicinal reasons. “Effects range from mild feelings of relaxation, giddiness, euphoria, visual enhancement (seeing colors brighter), visual disturbances (moving surfaces, waves), to delusions, altered perception of real events, images and faces, or real hallucinations.” Recreationally, this is often known as “tripping.” As an alternative health option, these fungi are being used for anxiety, depression, PTSD, and trauma, as well as psychological disorders such as substance abuse disorders, and science is beginning to back the potential for these applications.

Research on Mushrooms

Evaluations of currently available scientific studies suggest a growing number of therapeutic benefits and treatment options. “In the past few years, a growing number of studies using human volunteers have begun to explore the possible therapeutic benefits of drugs such as psilocybin…looking at psilocybin and other hallucinogens to treat a number of otherwise intractable psychiatric disorders, including chronic depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and drug or alcohol dependency.”

Magic mushrooms have been respected as a “safe & natural healing sacrament for millennia throughout Mexico, Central America and the world,” and are known to be beneficial for depression, recidivism (the tendency to repeat past transgressions), and encourages openness, creativity, as well as personal and spiritual growth. UCLA and NYC have done studies on the applications of magic mushrooms in the treatment of end-of-life anxiety and other studies have backed up the use of psilocybin and psilocin in the treatment of substance use disorders, depression (especially in cases of terminal conditions like cancer as well as treatment-resistant depression), and reducing depression and anxiety overall.

Best way for people to consume?

When it comes to the consumption of mushrooms, advice on dosage is about as specific as it was with cannabis under prohibition. Consumers must purchase on the black market and are subject to whatever may be available. 

“Recreational doses range from 1–5 grams of dry mushrooms depending on the species and individual strength of the specimens… After ingestion, the psilocybin is enzymatically converted to psilocin. Absorbed from the gastro-intestinal tract, hallucinogenic effects usually occur within 30 minutes of ingestion with a duration of effect of 4–6 hours.” 

My recommendation as someone who has used magic mushrooms both for recreational and therapeutic purposes, is to grind the mushrooms into a fine powder and either encapsulate them in small increments and/or combine with lemon juice. Capsules will allow you to titrate your dosage as needed with a recognizable increment, while lemon juice will expedite onset time.  

The Legality of Magic Mushrooms

In the United States, psilocybin is a Schedule I controlled substance, with no accepted medicinal value and a high potential for abuse. In contrast, the Drug Policy Alliance states that “Physically, psilocybin mushrooms are considered to be one of the least toxic drugs known.” With that being said, local efforts such as Decriminalize Nature – Oakland and Decriminalize Denver have pushed for and successfully passed initiatives and legislation to reduce penalties and make enforcement a low priority, as was done in the early days of cannabis activism. This has spurred multiple local and international efforts to “Decriminalize Nature,” efforts that we learn more about in this month’s feature.

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Ginkgo Biloba

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Ginkgo biloba is an ancient tree; its roots originate in China. The ginkgo biloba tree is also sometimes known as the maidenhair tree or the Japanese silver apricot, and it produces a foul-smelling fruit commonly harvested for its seeds known as “ginkgo nuts”. Ginkgo nuts are popularly used in Asian cuisine. 

The ginkgo biloba tree’s fan-shaped leaves are used to make ginkgo biloba extract, a supplement traditionally used in Chinese medicine, but has since garnered the attention of cultures worldwide. The supplement comes in liquid extracts, capsules, and tablets. The leaves can also be dried to make tea. The type of ginkgo biloba extract supplement someone takes is all a matter of personal preference, and depends on the user’s already existing regimen. If you do not already drink tea, a ginkgo biloba tea may not implement easily into your lifestyle, thus a greater chance for inconsistency or erratic results. But if you take vitamins or other supplements regularly, after a doctor’s approval you can easily incorporate an additional capsule or tablet into your daily routine. 

The 16th-century Compendium of Materia Medica or Ben Cao Gang Mu is revered as the most comprehensive text ever written in the history of traditional Chinese medicine. This text reveals that ginkgo biloba seeds were used as a topical extract for antimicrobial purposes on the skin. Traditional Chinese Medicine also uses the leaves for tea and attributes it to soothing coughs and activating blood circulation, as well as other benefits like respiratory and digestive ailments. 

A common use for ginkgo biloba is to preserve memory and prevent cognitive decline. Dr. Hiroko Dodge of Oregon State University at Corvallis and his research team followed 118 people for three years aged 85 years and older, in good health, and showing no signs of dementia or memory loss at the beginning of the study. Half took ginkgo biloba and half took a placebo over three years. The patients taking it regularly had a 70% lower risk of developing dementia. According to the study, the other variables included considered “basic demographic variables including age, sex, years of education, and living arrangement (living alone vs living with someone).” 

The National Center for Biotechnology and Information published a study exploring ginkgo as a potential remedy for anxiety and, “The authors reported a significant improvement in psychopathological symptoms. Response rates were 44% in the high-dose group, 31% in the low-dose group, and 22% with placebo. Additionally, the percentages of clinically significant responses were 81%, 67%, and 38% for the high-dose, the low-dose, and the placebo groups, respectively.”2

A 2008 study reinforced the idea behind Traditional Chinese Medicine that ginkgo biloba improves blood circulation. The study shows ginkgo biloba extract to improve coronary artery circulation in patients with coronary artery disease. The study notes, “GBE (ginkgo biloba extract) treatment demonstrated a significant improvement in maximal diastolic peak velocity (MDPV), maximal systolic peak velocity (MSPV) and diastolic time velocity integral (DTVI) compared with controls.”3 In other words, ginkgo biloba extract is a great contender as a treatment to improve blood flow. 

Like cannabis and other medicinal plants, ginkgo has terpenes and flavonoids. Both of these compounds have therapeutic properties, and can provide anti-inflammatory benefits as well as being packed with antioxidants. Anti-inflammatory effects can serve many different ailments, especially relieving pain of various kinds. Antioxidants are thought to protect our bodies from free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can cause harm to the body. Terpenes are also responsible for giving plants their unique and flavorful smell. Flavonoids are the compounds that give plants their vibrant and diverse colors, and are the largest group of phytonutrients. There are approximately 6,00 different types of flavonoids. 

A few years back, the National Toxicology Program released a detailed report on ginkgo biloba extract. It dissects the toxicity and carcinogenic properties of ginkgo biloba using rodent test subjects. The report made its rounds as proof that ginkgo biloba causes cancer, because the rodents developed cancer at high-rates over two year periods. Per the American Botanical Council, “Adjusted for bodyweight, dosage levels given to the animals were up to 55 to 108 times higher than levels of ginkgo normally ingested by human beings taking ginkgo supplements.” Many people have been using this report to warn against the supplement, but Bill J. Gurley, Ph.D., a professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Arkansas School for Medical Sciences, Little Rock said, “Almost anything will create cancer in rats and mice when it’s fed to them at high doses for two years.” The American Botanical Council also claims the ginkgo biloba extract used in the rodent experiment was of lesser quality, and not meeting European standards. 

Though this seemingly negative research on ginkgo can be explained, it is still important to discuss any kind of supplement addition with your doctor, especially if you are on other supplements or pharmaceutical prescriptions.

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